Opposition party meets with Western envoys

Oct 15, 2009 (DVB), Around 20 Western diplomats met with Burma's main opposition party yesterday to hear its views on democratic reform in the military-ruled country, a party spokesperson said.

The delegation, which included eight ambassadors from countries including Sweden, France and the United Kingdom, met with National League for Democracy (NLD) party members at their headquarters in Rangoon.

Party spokesperson Khin Maung Swe said that it was the largest foreign delegation to meet with the NLD in nearly a decade, adding that this was a sign that "they have an interest in Burma's democratic transformation".

The meeting reportedly focused on three points, including how the NLD will approach next year's controversial elections, and a follow-up on party leader Aung San Suu Kyi's discussion with foreign diplomats last week on sanctions.

"Lastly, they wanted to know whether it was true that we have been calling for an amendment on the basic construction because we wanted a share of power," Khin Maung Swe said.

Communication between the NLD and foreign envoys has stepped up a notch in recent weeks, with the detained Suu Kyi on 8 October holding a rare meeting with diplomats from Australia, the US and UK.

The meeting followed a letter sent by Suu Kyi to junta leader Than Shwe urging dialogue between the two on the lifting of sanctions.

Khin Maung Swe said that the party was offering "full support" on Suu Kyi's sanctions proposal. As for whether the NLD would enter the elections or not, he said it depended on whether demands set by the party are met.

"We said the decision would only be made after the NLD has called a convention with its township and state-level leaders after the election laws are out," he said.

He added that the party was not calling for an overhaul of the constitution, ratified by an alleged 92 percent of the population in the weeks following cyclone Nargis last May, but for "amendments to democratise constitution".

"We were just concerned with a promise made by the government on the elections [to] take Burmese people to a new democratic society," he said.

Reporting by Htet Aung Kyaw

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